ISLINGTON, St Mary – Chairman of the board of Horace Clarke High School Omar Newell is pleading with the Government to give the rural school some much-needed attention.
“The school needs a massive investment from the Ministry of Education. Successive ministers have made promises to the school [about addressing] the various needs and nothing has been done,” he said.
Newell will represent the Opposition People’s National Party in St Mary Central when the next general election is called.
He is concerned about the impact the challenges being faced at the school will have on its operations.
“The school has an issue with classroom space, lack of perimeter fencing, termites and furniture shortage. The Sixth Form Pathway programme is at the school and currently the auditorium is used for these classes, which can be inconvenient for the teaching/learning environment,” he told the Jamaica Observer.
Newell complained that the termite infestation continues to persist, three years after the education ministry did an assessment of the issue. And though that problem is grave, he pointed to what he believes is an even bigger issue.
“The school has been promised perimeter fencing and to date nothing has come out of it. It’s a major concern, as at times unwanted elements and animals make their way on the school compound,” said the board chairman who admitted to being worried about the safety of staff and students.
He was a bit less forthcoming when asked if the school had enough teachers for the new school year. At many other schools across the country administrators have sounded a warning that all is not well.
Last Tuesday it was reported that more than 400 teachers had resigned from the public school system in the past 11 days, with a big chunk of that number submitting their resignations after collecting their August salaries last Friday.
Newell was unable to say how many of Horace Clarke High’s teachers have resigned but he did confirm that the principal was among them.
“The vice-principal, who is more than capable, will be acting, as the post for principal will be advertised,” was all Newell was prepared to say.
Horace Clarke High was formerly Islington High School. In 2015, under the Portia Simpson Miller-led Government, it was renamed in honour of former government minister and Member of Parliament for St Mary Central, Horace Clarke.
The veteran parliamentarian, who died in 2010, served as Member of Parliament from 1972-2002, representing St Mary Central, Northern, and West Central.